Serving high-quality cocktails might make a bar well-known among the locals, but adding impeccable service makes that bar stand out from the rest.
The challenge for a bar is finding that excellent bartender. As anyone who has served behind the bar knows, the task of crafting a cocktail and being a compelling communicator with a customer at the same time is a tall order.
Alfonso is a veteran of identifying and hiring top talent in the service industry and has several tips for bars and restaurants to help them find their best staff. He also has a tip for prospective bartenders looking for their next job.
This may seem like an obvious thing to call out but in our industry, job seekers have more creative flexibility than in other fields. For instance, I once made a resume look like the menu for the restaurant I was applying to, and that really caught their attention. It was a personal touch, and 10 years later, I still get people telling me they remember that resume. So look for resumes that cater to your business, because that person will go the extra mile.
When you’re interviewing a candidate, inject your own personality into the conversation. You want to see if this person will bond with you in the moment, to try to get a feel of their personality so you can forecast if they’ll be a good fit with your customers. Ask them what their favorite bartending joke is—everyone has one!
Make Them Tell You a Story
Any great bartender will also be a great storyteller. It’s part of the job. I always ask candidates to tell me about their passion and interests, and just listen to see how they tell me. I listen closely to how they tell a story and their ability to convey a message, because I’m looking for managers, and managers need to be able to get their point across clearly. I think good storytellers are good managers because they are good communicators.
This seems like another basic one for an interviewee, but it’s especially important in the bar world. Following up sets you apart. I like anybody who shows initiative, even with simple things like “thank you” or following up in a timely manner after an interview. It goes a long way in my book. Running a profitable bar is contingent on building a staff of organized, thoughtful people who communicate efficiently.
Alex Alfonso’s title is Breakthru Florida Beverage Development Specialist.